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the wonderful power, wisdom, and goodness of God. Here we perceive how often God was with us, when we neither saw nor felt him: and with what truth it is that Peter has said, "He careth for us," 1 Epist. v.
Hence, if there were neither books nor vocal communication, yet, our own life conducted safely through so many evils and perils, if duly considered, would furnish us with an abundant proof of the all-present and all-sweet goodness of God, which had all along, contrary to our knowledge or feeling, carried us as in its bosom: as Moses saith, Deut. xxxii. The Lord kept him as the apple of his eye, and led him about and instructed him, and bore him on his shoulders.'
And it was from this view that all those exhortations were given us in the Psalms, "I remember the days of old; I meditate in all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands," Ps. exliii. "I will remember thy wonders of old," Ps. lxxvii. "I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord, and comforted myself," Ps. cxix. These and the like meditations are all directed to make ́us know, that, if we see that God was with us at a time when we little thought it, and when he did not appear to us to be present, we are not to doubt that he is now present, though he may seem to be far from us. For if he saved us in many great times of need without our knowing it, he will not forsake us in times of less trouble, though he may seem to forsake us as Isaiah saith, "For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee," Isaiah liv.
And, add to all this who was it that preserved us through so many nights when asleep? Who was it that always protected us when we were labouring, giving ourselves to amusements, and engaged in all those innumerable things wherein we had no care for ourselves? Or how much is there of our time wherein we took care of ourselves? Hence we see, that the whole care of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, was with God only, and that there is not a moment to be found, when we were left to the care of ourselves. And, moreover, God does all this, that he may instruct us in the knowledge
of his goodness, and that we may be brought to see the vast difference there is between his care and ours. Hence it is, that he suffers us to be attacked with some slight disease, or other evil, and carries himself as though he cared not for us, (though there is no time wherein he does not care for us,) and yet, suffers not all the evils that surround us to fall upon us at once, but tries us only as dearest children, whether or not we will trust ourselves to that care of his which has followed us all our life through, and be convinced of the vanity and impotency of our own care to protect ourselves. For what do we, or what can we do throughout our whole life towards protecting ourselves, when we cannot help ourselves against the least pain in one of our limbs?
Why then are we so distressed and anxious about any one small evil that may come upon us? Why do we not leave the whole care to him, when our whole life is a testimony, that we have hitherto been brought through, and saved from, so many evils by him, without having any thing whatever to do with it ourselves?
To know these things, I say, is to know the works of God and to meditate in his works, and to be comforted by that meditation under all adversities. And they that know not these things, will come under that declaration of Ps. xxviii. "Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them and not build them up." For those who will not trust the care of themselves to God under any one trouble, are ungrateful for all his care that has been over them throughout their whole lives.
OF THE EVILS FROM BENEATH.,
In all the evils that we have hitherto considered, (and which are those to which we are subject,) we have seen, that the goodness of God is so great and so present with us, that, of all those evils with which we are in this
life surrounded and wholly incarcerated, scarcely any fall upon us, and those, not of continual duration; and that, every single evil that may be present with us, and under which we may be troubled, is but a monitor of the great blessing with which God honours us, in not permitting us to be overwhelmed at once with that multitude of evils in the midst of which we live.-What a miracle would it be, if a man were to have an infinité number of blows aimed at him, and should only be struck by one! Yea, it would be a signal mark of protecting grace if he were to escape any! But, to escape nearly all, is a miracle!
The first, then, of those evils that are beneath us is death; the next, is hell. If we consider the various and awful deaths of many other sinners, we shall at once see, how far we are, through the divine goodness, from meeting with our deserts. How many have been strangled, staked, drowned, or beheaded, who perhaps had committed far less sins than we have! Christ, therefore, would set their death and misery before our eyes, that we may thereby see what we deserve." So, when some told him (Luke xiii.) of the Galilæans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices," he answered, "Suppose ye that these Galilæans were sinners above all the Galilæans, because they suffered such things! I tell you, nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." For we cannot think that a less punishment is due unto us who have committed the same, or perhaps greater, sins. The justice and truth of God will not be made to lie, or to be unjust on our account: he has determined to "render unto every man according to his works."
And, how many thousands are there now in hell and eternal damnation, who never committed a thousandth part of the sins that we have? How many virgins and youths are now there, whom we are accustomed to call
innocent characters? How many religious ones, priests, and wives who appeared throughout their lives to serve God, and who perhaps slipped or fell but once, are under eternal punishment?-The justice of God, to all certainty, views every sin with the same eye: it alike hates and condemns sin in whatever person it is found. Do we not here then see the unspeakable mercy of God, in not eternally destroying us who so often deserved it? And what, I ask you, can we suffer in our whole life that is equal to their eternal punishment? We, however, after so many sins are still unpunished and preserved, And if we do not affectionately regard, or if we lightly esteem these mercies of God, it is ingratitude, and we are in a certain hardened state of insensible unbelief.
Moreover, we may here consider the infidels, Gentiles, Jews, and infants; who, if they had been blessed with the advantages that we have enjoyed, would not have been in hell, but in heaven; and would have committed far less sins. For this view Christ also sets before us, Matt. xi., "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. Woe unto thee, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, thou shalt be brought down to hell, for if the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom it would have remained unto this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for thee."
We here then see how much praise and love are due unto our ever blessed God, under every evil that comes upon us; when we bear in mind, that it is but as one spark of those evils which we deserve; which evils Job compares to the sea, and to the sand upon the sea-shore.
OF THE EVILS ON OUR LEFT HAND.
Here, we are to set before our eyes the great multitude of our adversaries and of evil men; and to consider first of all, how many evils there are that they have not brought upon our bodies, our property, our fame, and upon our souls, which they would have done, had not the overruling hand of God put it out of their power. And the higher any one is in station and rank, and the more widely he rules, to the more snares, plots, stratagems, revilings, and temptations of these adversaries is he exposed. In all which, he may see and know, that the hand of God is most conspicuously with him. But what wonder is it if we be touched now and then?
But still, we are not to view the evils and miserable state of these men, so as to exult over them; but, that we may suffer with them; for they are exposed to all the same evils that we are; as may be plainly seen in the preceding VIEWS. But they are more wretched than we are in this they are out of our society both corporal and spiritual. For the evils that we suffer are nothing to be compared to their state. They are under sin and unbelief, under the wrath of God, under the power of the devil, and in the most wretched slavery to ungodliness and iniquity: so that, if the whole world should rise up and curse them, it could not imprecate on their heads greater curses than those under which they now lie.
If we seriously weigh all these things, we shall at once see, how distinguished a blessing the Almighty confers upon us, in permitting us to endure some trifling inconvenience of our poor body, in faith, in the kingdom of Christ, and in the service of God: which inconvenience, in the midst of such a profusion of blessings, ought not indeed to be felt. Nay, the misery of the above-mentioned wretched creatures should appear such in the eyes of a Christian and a God.